Embracing ChoiceJune 24, 2010 at 4:56 pm | Posted in General | 2 Comments
Tags: choice, game design, raiding, World of Warcraft
Yay for debate! It stops the world getting a little boring, and the little (big) chaos of internet debate means that some subjects will never die. Ever. Not ever.
Blizzard deciding to throw the cat amongst the geeks by stating that 10- and 25-player raids will now be equal in every way that matters in World of Warcraft has been a godsend to internet gaming debaters in general.
This is because Geeks love hierarchies. Star Wars is cooler than Star Trek. Fanfic writers are cooler than slashfic writers. Everyone looks down on furries. Sorry furries. And the way that we define whom gets to be the top of the pile, and therefore gets to look down on everyone else, is through reasoned debate. And a whole load of unreasoned debate.
Things change, though. I remember when Whovians (fans of the original Dr Who series) were looked on as the poor cousins of Geek Fandom. Now they are in the ascendancy, and saying you’re a NuWho fan is no longer a cue for people to roll their eyes and utter soothing; “Poor thing; you’ll get over it in time” noises.
In World of Warcraft, 25-player raiders looked down on 10-player raiders. As a 25-player raider, you got better gear, more of it, and the fights were cooler and more dangerous. 10-player was easymode (even in heroic mode), and the phat lewts were actually skinny mocha versions of the gear you already had thanks to your 25-player raiding successes.
By making all lewts equally phat, and by making all fights equally challenging, what is the difference between 10-player and 25-player raiding? Apart from 15 players?
There is *a* difference. 25-player raids will get *more* lewts. I’m not sure how much more, but not enough to make people think that 25-player raiding will “survive”.
This is where I tend to digress from many of the random forum screamers that are out there. Phat lewts are a tool, to me. They allow me to join in with raids and see more content. They allow me to go raiding and partake in a meaningful fashion.
It’s the raiding itself that matters. It’s that bold leap into danger, facing off against terrible odds, and emerging battered, bruised and victorious.
It’s about being part of a team, of playing your part in a shared success, and of making friends whilst doing it.
It’s about war stories and anecdotes, about those experiences that stood out, and that defined what it was like to be there at the time. And with that comes bragging rights, the abilitiy to say “I did that. We did that”.
Of course, if that’s not enough, and it *is* all about the phat lewts, and it’s not so much bragging rights as being able to rub everyone else’s nose in the dirt about just how much better you are then they are, then we both have differing views of what MMO gaming is about, never mind raiding.
A change in the number of players allowed into a raid means a change in the social dynamics of the group. I’m pretty sure MMO raiding teams are pretty much the same when it comes to sports teams; players want to be *in* the team, not looking at it from the outside.
Just try and imagine the chaos, the screaming and the shouting that would happen were the football authorities to change the number of players allowed onto the pitch at any one time during a game.
Football has the benefit of a over a century of formal sporting code, and the refinement thereof. MMO raiding is still just coming out of the “two excitable mobs fighting over an inflated pig’s bladder with a clock tower as one goal post and the town gate as the other” stage.
But that doesn’t mean these are bad times; these are the exciting times, where anyone and everyone means something, as opposed to it being all about overpaid sporting stars.
Right now is where all the choice is; being pioneers means we have the opportunity to play as a part of an excitable mob, or a 5-a-side team, or anything and everything in between. Whatever style we prefer, there is a game or games that will cater for us.
So I don’t see it as a case of there being only One Way, and every other way is The Wrong Way. It’s just different.
Difference should be celebrated, as it’s what makes life interesting. I find that defining myself by my chosen style of raiding (which in World of Warcraft is 10-player, for those interested), or to define anyone else’s choice of raiding as *Doing It Wrong* is very negative, and generally makes us all look like cranks to the outside world.
Even Blizzard have decided to step out of The Great Debate, by stating that 10-player and 25-player raids will be just as challenging as each other and drop the same loot (just differing amounts) in Cataclysm. It’s just a case of personal choice, helping us to find the gameplay that we want.
Surely that’s a good thing?